Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Immortals

Well, if I was disappointed by The Unit, I certainly was not disappointed by The Immortals by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddle. I'd been worried the Edge Chronicles books would turn out to be kinda dull and boring now that I was a bit older than when I first read them, that the new one wouldn't be amazingly interesting, that I'd feel patronised or whatever, as some new children/teenage books in series I've liked for a while have turned out not so great. The total opposite.

It was a truly phenomenal piece of writing. It looks big, I know, and maybe it is kinda big, but it's fantastic. And there are pictures. Not as in childish picture book type pictures, but as in worthwhile diagrams of various cities, craft, etc, and illustrations of the characters and creatures which enhance the text itself. If you haven't read the rest of the Edge Chronicles books, it doesn't really matter. I haven't read them for a while, and it made perfect sense to me. Having said that, it does link in to the other books. And it solves various mysteries of what happened to the different people at the ends of their stories.

The world of the Edge Chronicles is incredibly well constructed. It's not a nicey nicey world where everything's just about perfect. Nor is it a world of clear black and white. It's the tale of a world starting to come to terms with industrialisation, trying to balance that with the preservation of the deepwoods, of scholars with an interest in what lies over the Edge cliff, and of a young boy thrust from his home in the mines where he works as a lamplighter, keeping the constant twilight glow set that is needed in order to mine the phranx-crystals that their world relies on. A very well-created place indeed, with a myriad of creatures and cultures. It lacks the simplicity found in many children's fantasy books, with all hte speices being well-developed. The characters too are well-rounded, crafted into heroes that you can relate too.

All in all, a book that surprised me with how good it was. Oh, sure, I prefer the more delicate craft from the Second Age of Flight to the larger craft they now have, but it's a bit like the way I prefer to read about the old biplanes than more modern fighter jets. A nice ending, optimistic, but not so much so that it seems corny. Leaves it open nicely for a sequel that I hope is not too long in coming.

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